Research Links Depressed Dads To Colicky Babies

03/07/2009 15:02 | Updated 22 May 2015

Colicky babies are more likely to have depressed fathers, according to a new research study published in Pediatrics. Which to any dad who's spent a few evenings cradling an inconsolable baby, is a revelation on a par with that thing about Popes and woods. Or was it bears?

Of course, that's just being wilfully silly. The research isn't saying that a colicky baby makes its dad depressed: it's the other way round.

Depressed fathers are two times more likely to have colicky kids, according to the research, either through genetics, or through indirect factors like marital, family or economic stress. It's news because previous studies apparently suggested it was depressed MUMS who were linked to excessively crying babies.

Does it matter? We're only talking about risk factors here: there's no bald claim that depression causes colic, and certainly no scope for any 'So it's YOUR fault!' style blame'n'shaming. Which in any case, isn't generally the most sensitive line of discussion with someone who's prone to depression.

But the research does highlight a wider problem around fathers. As Alastair Campbell has repeatedly said when being interviewed about his bouts of depression, many men have a real issue with admitting to problems in this area. That can only be enhanced around the birth of a child.

Many dads feel that they need to be "the strong one" in their relationship during those last few months of pregnancy – even if this is rooted in the just-a-tad sexist assumption that women spend that time as hormonal bundles of nerves dissolving in tears 17 times a day.

In fact, it's precisely during these months that fathers-to-be are likely to run up against those factors cited in the Pedatrics study: worries about finances and work, family life, how they'll cope with fatherhood (or how their existing child(ren) will cope with a new sibling...

All the more reason to talk these issues out, perhaps. Starting with their partners, family or friends. Depression isn't a problem that can be solved overnight, but while the temptation to put a lid on it is even greater around the birth of a child, the new research indicates that opening up and addressing the problem is even more crucial at this time.

Suggest a correction